(JNi.media) Yahya Sinwar, one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas and an organizer of the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Waxman, was appointed Sunday to lead the Hamas negotiations team on returning the remains of two soldiers who were killed in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, and two Israeli civilians who entered Gaza in recent months, Ma’ariv reported.
Sinwar, who spent some twenty years in Israeli prison, and was released in the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011, was sentenced to five life sentences for murdering Arabs suspected of collaborating with Israel. While in prison, Sinwar was considered to be one of the senior leaders of the Hamas inmates, and led the hardliners who opposed any concession on the part of the Islamist terror movement in the Shalit deal.
At one point, according to Israeli media reports, Sinwar was placed in solitary confinement because he had gone wild in response to reports that Hamas was compromising on the release of prisoners with a lot of blood on their hands.
In the end, his insistence proved effective, as Israel released 1,027 prisoners in exchange for one Israeli soldier— Gilad Shalit. According to Israeli media sources, the released prisoners were collectively responsible for the murders of 569 Israelis.
Now, Sinwar has been appointed adviser to the Hamas bureau chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, was placed in charge of the “Israeli prisoners portfolio,” and all future negotiations on prisoner exchanges will be done through him.
Last Thursday, Israeli authorities revealed that Hamas is holding two Israeli civilians who voluntarily crossed the border into Gaza, one of them a member of the Israeli Ethiopian community in Ashkelon, the Other an Israeli Bedouin from the Negev region.
Both have been described as young men who grapple with mental issues.
The sources that revealed Sinwar’s appointment stressed that he will not be responsible only for negotiations over the release of the two Israelis whom Hamas has hinted are being detained in Gaza, but also over the return of the bodies of the two soldiers Hadar Goldin and
, who were killed in battle last summer.
Those same sources added that Sinwar was appointed, in part, because he is known as an aggressive negotiator, and for his stubbornness during the ceasefire talks last summer.
Hamas has informed Israel already that before any talks on releasing the soldiers’ remains can begin, the 80 or so security prisoners who had been freed in the Shalit deal and then re-arrested must be released.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is serving as the go-between in the contacts between Hamas and Israel on the release of the two Israeli civilians who are believed to be detained in Gaza.